Helping Our Kids Get the Most Out of the Worship Service

Having our kids with us during an entire worship service can seem overwhelming! But, you can do it, and it’s good for them and the church. Studies show, kids who do not attend the main worship service are more likely to drop out of church as a teenager or adult. Our kid’s spiritual development is our job and the earlier we start the easier it is to form habits. Even if it is once a month, this is a skill they will need their entire life. Someday they will have to pick their own church!

The goal is not just good behavior, the goal is Christ followers.

What does the “win” look like?

  • Kids understand the importance of the worship service.
  • Kids know they are an important part of the church.
  • Kids begin to apply what they are learning.

Make it a big deal!

Kid’s attitudes often reflect our attitudes.  Act excited about this opportunity! Talk about it before and after church to other important people in your kids’ lives. Introduce them to people that sit around you. Think about it … how would you feel if you knew someone didn’t want you there?

Expect them to listen and participate

Set this expectation early.  Kids cannot meet expectations they don’t know about. As adults, we know participating will make the time go by faster for them.

If your church provides “Kid’s Message Notes” use them.  If not, buy them a simple blank notebook just for church.  There are also many options of books made just for kids to take notes in church that are fun and age appropriate.  This one is my favorite.

This is going to be challenging. Acknowledge that listening and sitting still is hard, but you think they can do it, and will still love them when they don’t.

Use electronics as a last resort, and use only Bible based apps.  I know the easiest thing to do is hand them your phone, and let them play games.  This may create good behavior but it doesn’t help them be Christ followers.  However, if you or your kiddo is having a terrible day and neither of you have the energy, do what you have to do.  We’ve all been there!  Don’t beat yourself up  but rather use the time to recharge.

  • Explain your expectations ahead of time.  For example:
    • They should stand and sing during worship or any other time the congregation stands
    • Help pass the plate during offering
    • Take notes during the message
    • Bow their heads and pray during prayer time.
    • Use the restroom ahead of time and not leave agian (depending on the age of your child)

It may take a few weeks for them to get the hang of it, but stick with it.  It will be worth it!

Come prepared!

Getting ready for Sunday morning starts on Saturday night. Make sure they get enough sleep. Overly-tired makes for a rough morning. Also, pick out their clothes and make sure you know where their Bible is.  Having this done ahead of time will make the morning go much smoother.

Use restroom before service starts. This avoids distractions and excuses.  I can’t concentrate when I’m doing the potty dance, neither can our kids.

Limit the water fountain before service.  It has always amazed me how kids have to be reminded to drink water during the average day.  At times, it is even a fight to keep them hydrated but at bed time and during church they mysteriously become aware of their need for water.  Don’t fall for it, it’s a trick!

  • Anticipate their needs and put it in a “Worship bag”
    • Crayons, pen, pencil (depending on age)
    • Paper or notebook- one for each kiddo
    • Kleenex
    • Gum or hard candy
    • Fidget toy

Explain the different parts of the service

Kids are naturally curious, and do better when they know what is coming.  This is your time to shine as a parent and guide them understanding some of the traditions and rituals of your faith.

  • Worship Music – Singing to or about God.  This is God’s time.  He doesn’t ask that we sing pretty but rather that we sing from the heart.
  • Offering – This is the time our family gives back to God from what he has given to us.  We take an offering in KidCity, but you can have them give during the worship service instead so they feel more included.
  • Baptism – Something we do after we have prayed and asked Jesus to come into our lives as a symbol for what Christ has done for us and in us.
  • Lord’s Supper – A special time when Believer’s remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.  Jesus led the Disciples to do this just before he was crucified.
  • Invitation/Response Time – a time towards the end of the worship service when we ask everyone to respond to what they were taught from the Bible in the message.  This is a time that we are to pray for change in our own lives and pray for people who need to accept Christ.

Tips and tricks     

  • Go before them and after them. Tell them ahead of time what the message is going to be about. Then, discuss it in the car or at lunch afterwards.
  • Give them a task before the message and follow up with them. For example, “Tell me 3 things that the pastor said today,” or “What was your favorite worship song” or “Tell me 2 new things you learned” or “What is the main thing from today’s sermon that you think other people should know?”
  • They can draw the sermon if they can’t write yet or just process better with art.
  • Follow along with the Bible Story in their children’s bible or on “The Bible App for Kids”
  • Have younger kids sit on your lap or with their head close to you so you can whisper and explain things to them in your own words.
  • Bring a small white board for them to use or put in their worship bag.
  • Sit up front.
  • Good old fashion bribery! This is a good tool as long as it is not your only tool.
  • Kids can serve in the worship service. If you service in some way, have them help you. Older kids can be door greeters or ushers.